I’m a mother, but you cannot see my children. I have carried eight lives in my womb who never made it to their due date, but I’m a mother nevertheless. Mother’s Day is for me, too.
When I meet strangers who ask if I have children, sometimes I don’t know how to answer. Because yes, of course I have children.. but they live in Heaven. How do you explain that to a perfect stranger who is just trying to make small talk? When you’re in your late 20’s, have been married for 5 years, and live in the south, it’s a common and innocent question. I find myself torn between wanting to acknowledge and honor the lives of my babies while also not wanting to burden a perfect stranger with the weight of grief and death and celebration of motherhood that never was, at least on this side of eternity. Most of the time I just say “Yes”, or “We are working on it”.
This Mother’s Day is my fourth as a mother with invisible children, marking nearly 5 years since we miscarried our first baby. Five years ago I was pregnant with our first, and it was such a joyful and innocent season. I celebrated my first Mother’s Day seven weeks pregnant and spent the day at the beach with my mom and grandmother. Three generations of mothers, together in one room. It was so incredibly special. I remember being with my family and being third in line to make my lunch plate. My grandmother made her plate first and my mother went second. My husband and I were so excited. We were finally adjusted (as much as one can be) to the idea of being pregnant unexpectedly. We told our friends and family and spent a few minutes every day reading about how our baby was growing in my body and thinking about baby names and imagining how our life would be so different in December.
Our inocent bliss and excitement would soon be replaced with the first of eight of the most traumatic and heartbreaking experiences I would have never guessed I would have ever experienced. If you aren’t familiar with our story, you can read more about it here. But even still, I wouldn’t change it and I don’t regret my experiences carrying any of our miracles- no matter how short their lives were. They made me a mom.
Although you may not see my children, I am and will always be their mother. I celebrate Mother’s Day confidently and courageously. Mother’s Day is for me, too. I’ve experienced pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I’ve experienced joy and dreaming of the life my children will have and who they will grow up to be. I’ve experienced the maternal fear and anxiety and worry of bad or hard things happening to them and the fierce desire to do everything I can to protect them. I’ve learned from my children immensely and I feel incredibly privileged to have had the experience of being their mom. In motherhood, it doesn’t matter how long you are a mother. Once you are a mother, you are truly forever changed.
Even though my children haven’t grown here on earth with me, they have grown in my heart and I have grown with them as their mother. I’ve grown in confidence in my identity. I’ve grown in my love for the lives I carried and for the lives of people all around me- for the mothers who have lost children, for the children who have lost mothers, and for mothers and children with damaged or broken relationships with one another. I’ve grown in acceptance for the way my life has panned out and in accepting my circumstances, embracing grief and sadness instead of anger. I have grown in my ability to still have hope and unexplainable joy for the future in spite of my circumstances. Although you may not see my children, I am their mother and I celebrate that.. today and everyday.